KARACHI: The Sindh government on Monday decided to include Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s speech of Aug 11, 1947 in the curriculum of classes eight to 10.

The decision to include the speech made by the Father of the Nation in his address to the first Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on Aug 11, 1947 was taken by the provincial senior minister for education and literacy on the direction of former president of Pakistan and PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari.

The speech — “You are free, you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or cast or creed — that has nothing to do with the business of the State ... Now I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal and you will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State” — in which the Quaid explicitly spoke of giving equal rights and freedom to the religious minorities of Pakistan will be made a part of the curriculum in its entirety.

Know more: Curricular concerns

“History needs to be put right back on track and that is exactly what we intend to do now. Sindh has a right to prepare its syllabi so we are including Mr Jinnah’s speech, in its entirety, so that the message remains clear, in the course books of our children.

“The step, besides spreading awareness among the younger generation, would help our young generation face and fight the mindset of intolerance found in many people of today. They should understand that Pakistan was meant to be a secular nation where everyone has the right to follow their religion,” said the senior minister.

It was said that the textbooks with the addition would be distributed among schoolchildren free of cost next year.

According to Dr Syed Jaffer Ahmed, director of the Pakistan Study Centre, University of Karachi, the speech has never been a part of a Pakistani discourse, neither partially nor in its entirety, and if it is happening now, it is no doubt a positive step.

“As far as I know, this speech of the Quaid-i-Azam has never been read by students as a part of their course. And if it is being done now, it is commendable. But I would suggest making this speech not a part of any chapter but making it a chapter in itself. It is long enough as in its entirety it is around four pages anyway. It can be made into an entire lesson,” Dr Ahmed said.

“This speech is the Magna Carta of Pakistan and should be celebrated as such. It cultivates the idea of Pakistani nationhood. Now there is a sort of tug of war going on with the speech. The secular focus on it while those opposing them say that Mr Jinnah at the time only made the speech to win over the religious minorities of Pakistan.”

He explained: “The two-nation theory culminated with the birth of Pakistan. Had we carried on with that theory, the minorities, too, would have demanded a separate homeland for themselves on the grounds of being another nation. So most people debate that Mr Jinnah while making the speech was pacifying the minorities in order to win them over. Little do they know that this not being the case it was Mr Jinnah making clear the state’s philosophy. He was cultivating the idea of Pakistani nationhood while really wanting the state to remain neutral.”

He further said that not just the school curriculum, the speech should also be included in Pakistan’s Constitution. “That would remove all the confusion spread by the Objectives Resolution. In fact it should be made the preamble,” he said.

Published in Dawn, March 24th, 2015

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